The best New Year’s resolution we can make.

I’ve given up on my usual New Year’s Resolutions, you know the ones: lose two stone, save money, be on time more, be tidier (it’s just not going to happen). And instead, I’ve started to focus on making my New Year, New! Doing new things, learning new stuff, seeing new places, meeting new people.

All the way back in 2013, I reflected on all the new things I’d done! I loved seeing them all written down in one place, a portfolio of every little experience that had changed me, grown me and sometimes thrown me that year. So, naturally, I pledged to have a year of newness in 2014 too. And here’s how it went:

January
I went to New York for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I’d always wanted to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree, to ice skate in Central Park and to watch the ball drop at midnight in Times Square, like they do in the movies.
So I did.Central Park Ice Skating

February
I joined a band. I said yes to becoming the lead female singer. And I loved it! I loved it so much. See, I’d always wanted to be in a band. So I joined one.

March
I booked a one way ticket! I wanted to leave on a jet plane and not know when I’d be back again. So I did.

April
I went glamping! I wanted to sleep under the stars in a warm, comfy, glamorous kinda way. So I did.

Glamping

May
I became a Manager. I know, right?! Little ol’ me in charge of people and projects and with responsibilities n’stuff! I always wanted to be a boss, so I worked my butt off and became one.

June
I sang in the street. Not just in a belting out a little tune at the end of my drive kinda way (cos that’s totally normal), but in a on a stage, at my village street fair, in front of friends and family and fellow villagers kinda way. I’d always wanted to be the talk of the town, and so I was (for 3 minutes approx).

Groby Street Fair 1

July
I had £10,000 in the bank. This has NEVER, EVER, happened before. And, unlikely to ever happen again. But I wanted to save my socks off for travelling and so, with the help of my soul-destroying, wardrobe minimising, utter snooze fest of a budget planner, I did. (Sidenote: on the off chance any potential online fraudster might be checking in, I can assure you, it didn’t last long).

August
I got interviewed on camera. My University wanted to know about my job as a PR Manager and Copywriter and how my Creative Writing course had helped, so they came into my work and filmed me chatting and working and even a bit of walking, and I felt all dead special! (P.S. you can watch the interview here.)

Filming

September
I said goodbye to my friends and family without knowing when I would see them again. I got on a plane and got off on the other side of the world. I marvelled at the beauty of New Zealand, I was astounded by the smiles and friendliness of the people in poverty in Fiji, oh, and I went white water rafting and, as I like to tell it, totes nearly drowned.

October
I fell from a height of 43m strapped to a harness and a wire, for fun! It was the Taupo bungee swing in New Zealand, and once I’d stopped fearing for my life, it was amazing!!

Taupo Bungee SwingTaupo Bungee Swing 2

November
I landed in a foreign country and didn’t have a plan. With my boyfriend and two friends by my side, and not much money left in the bank, we hopped in a campervan and muddled our way up the East Coast of Australia, then muddled our way back down again. We spent a night in a car, three weeks in a camper and a month in a cabin, and finally, we found a permanent place to stay for the year. And, I must say, it was SO worth the blood, sweat and excess rice consumption!

December
I experienced a hot Christmas! Pimms, paddling pools, sun cream, bikinis – the lot! We were so generously invited to the home of a fabulously fun and friendly family who treated us like their own. And we ate an enormous Christmas dinner, outside!

Aussie Christmas 1

pimms

paddling pools

Another year and another load of lovely new stuff to reflect on. Just writing it down and looking back on it makes me feel like I’m already better for it, a little bit wiser, a little bit happier and a little bit braver, even though at some points I was really freakin’ scared. And I’m proud of that.

In fact, I think it might be the best New Years resolution we can ever make, to give ourselves constant reasons to be proud, and more importantly, taking that time out to be proud, to reflect, to celebrate.

Even just with little things.

That recipe you’ve been meaning to try? Do it. The yoga class you keep planning to join? Go for it. That job that looks perfect but you’re sure you don’t have the right skills for? Give it a try. The old friend you’ve been wanting to get in touch with? Why not! That person you know you love? Tell them.

Push yourself this year. Say yes. Make you proud.

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I linked to this post over on the lovely blog below, go see what they’re up to!

Blogger Goals 2015

The apple of my eye: New York City

Times Square

It was everything I had imagined and more.

Stepping out of the subway station and on to Times Square, I stood frozen for a minute and took it all in; the flashing lights were so bright and flashy and flooded the entire street as far down as I could see, I gawped up at the tall concrete block buildings that reached into the clouds, and then I was knocked sideways by a costume Elmo – yes, I hadn’t imagined that bit.

Before I left for the big city, once new passport was safe and bags were packed, my Grandpa told me how much he’d have loved to have gone to New York but that he’d never had the chance. I hate that, when old people talk about things they didn’t get to do, in that tone of voice where they resign themselves to the fact they’ll never get to experience something in their lifetime, that it’s probably too late. Well then Gramps, I thought, it’s time for me to make some big fat memories for the both of us!

Here’s a few of my memory making moments:

Ground Zero

Ground Zero

This was pretty amazing; the two huge fountains that represented each tower were breathtaking, and the names of all those lost in 9/11 engraved on a gold panel around the fountains only added to that emotion. It was fascinating to walk around the surrounding area and see pictures of destruction against the fantastic re-builds.

  • Tickets were free to enter the memorial but a donation of $5-$10 was suggested at the desk.

Central Park

Central Park Skating1

Central Park Skating

What a beautiful place, particularly in the winter time, although it’s the coldest I’ve ever been, the frost and snow made it even prettier and more magical. My favourite memory of the whole trip has to be ice skating in Central Park. It was New Year’s Eve, the sun was well on its way down and I was skating around – once I’d eventually let go of the sides, that is – I looked up at the grand buildings that surrounded the park and I realised I didn’t have a single care in the world, it was one of those ‘wow’ moments where you just breathe it all in – in fact, it was bloody perfect.

  • It was around $18 to skate and $8 for skate hire, but these were Christmas and New Year prices so it does vary dependent on timing.

Broadway Show

Avenue Q

We’d stood in the discounted ticket line for far too long to turn back at the last hurdle, so our only option was to buy tickets for a ‘technically’ ‘off Broadway’ show, called Avenue Q – (though one of my very favourites so I didn’t much mind personally, can’t say the rest of the group were overly thrilled having never heard of it!) But, I was confident it would be enjoyed and, thank god, it was. It was absolutely fantastic. It was hilarious, the singing was amazing and the acting was too. Avenue Q is a show that covers all sorts of social struggles/taboos, from money, class, love and sexuality to careers, marriage, race, and a bit of porn thrown in too, all hysterically portrayed by puppets and their incredibly talented puppeteer partners – what’s not to love?!

  • We queued by the red steps in Times Square for around an hour in a bid to get discount show tickets. We had four of the available options in mind as the stewards had advised us to do, but none of our four options were available by the time we reached the front of the line. If you do have your heart set on a particular show or a classic at least, I’d definitely suggest paying full price to buy from the box office as they didn’t appear a huge percentage cheaper anyway. However, if you’re feeling open-minded and willing to take a chance on any amazing show on Broadway at a discount price then the red steps queue is for you!

Grand Central Station

Whispering Wall

Well, regardless of the fact that I’m used to the, let’s say, slightly less glamorous buildings of where trains depart, this was the grandest train station I’ve ever seen. It had the tallest, most intricately detailed ceilings with the biggest atrium and dining concourse.The whole time I was there I was hoping for a flash mob to begin like in the film ‘Friends with Benefits’, but no such luck. We managed to find the whispering wall – one of the alcoves outside of the dining concourse which has great acoustics through the ceiling so you can talk into one corner of the wall and can be heard loudly and clearly in the other corner. There’s no sign that it’s there so you just have to look out for people whispering into a wall. And, when people walk past and look at you like you’re mad while you whisper into said wall, it kind of feels like an exclusive little secret for those in the know.

Times Square – New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve

We knew we were crazy for joining the crowds of Times Square on New Year’s Eve, we were made certain of the fact we were crazy by many people’s general response to our plans being, ‘you are crazy,’ and our craziness was finally confirmed as we stood in a crowd of a million people, in minus 5 degrees Celsius, for 6 and a half hours, waiting for a sparkly ball to drop from the top of a pole to the bottom.

We arrived at around 5.30pm and were ushered through the barriers like cattle, undergoing various police checks and filing through to the next lot of barriers until there was nowhere else to go. We ordered pizza into the crowd which was a major highlight during the long wait for midnight, and ordered hot drinks too but daren’t drink much for fear of needing the toilet, as once you were out there was no getting back in. We watched, through the windows of the warm looking restaurants, the TV coverage of the stage that we could neither see or hear, and attempted to ‘make our own fun’ the rest of the time (though there’s only so much charades you can play when hands and nose and arms and toes are frozen to the core.)

I was so excited when it finally reached midnight that I forgot to actually watch the ball drop! Guess I’ll have to go again next year – no, that’s definitely a joke, as when people say ‘you’ll only do it once,’ they’re absolutely correct. I’m not saying the atmosphere at midnight wasn’t amazing, because it really was, and I can tick it off ‘the list’ too.

  • I’d say if you’re going to brave the long, cold night anyway, get to Times Square at around 3pm if not earlier, that way you’ll be able to see the stage entertainment, mainly to take your mind off your fingers and toes falling off. And wrap up warm, as a vest, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved top, a jumper, a hoody, a coat, three pairs of tights, one pair of leggings, one pair of jeans, two pairs of socks, some snow boots, a hat, a headband, some earmuffs, two scarves and two pairs of gloves only just cut it!

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller

The best New Year’s Day hangover cure I could ever recommend! I can’t remember a year where January 1st wasn’t spent on the sofa, in pyjamas, gorging on leftover Christmas chocolate and promising that New Year’s resolutions would eventually commence. To say this was different would be the biggest understatement. I must say I rather preferred standing at the top of one of the tallest buildings in New York and watching the sunset over the stunning city. This, was another ‘wow’ moment.

Speakeasy Bar

Speakeasy Bar

Raines Law Room Bar was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, once we managed to find the hidden underground drinking hole that is. Along an average street stood an inconspicuous black canopy which led down some steps to a little black door. On knocking, a little man opened the door by candlelight and poked his nose out with a whispered ‘can I help you’ – think Charles’ Dickens meets Harry Potter with a splash of The Borrowers. We were ushered quickly inside, our coats taken, and were shown to our very own booth surrounded by black curtains with a and an exposed brick wall, with a small chain attached to the wall to call for waitress assistance. The quirky dark alcove felt so secluded and the quiet hum of conversation and tinkling of glasses was such a far away atmosphere from the noisy hustle and bustle of the busy streets above. And the cocktails were pretty delicious too!

  • There are lots of speakeasy bars throughout the city, each with their very own distinctive decor theme and sense of character. The price to pay for the most unique and stylish hangouts in town is on average a mere $14 a cocktail – I’ll drink to that!

Doing something you could do at home and enjoying it so much more..

Friends

It’s so funny how you can travel across the world and have the biggest brightest city right on your doorstep, yet still find so much enjoyment, laughter and comfort from being in a warm house, in snug clothes, drinking (beer – reluctantly), chatting and playing silly games with friends. So I may not have had to take a 12 hour flight for that particular experience, but it was such a great addition to the memories.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

There are so many more touristy top spots we managed to visit, especially when we got snowed in and our flight was cancelled so we had to stay in New York for four extra days (I know, poor us!) But once again, that’s a whole different story..!